A walking route around Colchester for soldiers to reflect on the meaning of Remembrance, both for the town’s military and civilian communities, has been mapped out.
The 4½ mile route takes soldiers around Merville Barracks and through Colchester, taking in locations that highlight the sacrifices of war and the history of both 16 Air Assault Brigade and Colchester as a garrison town.
Key locations visited include the barracks’ Cpl Budd VC Gymnasium, named in honour of Corporal Bryan Budd VC who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006 and awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his “inspirational leadership and supreme valour”; Colchester War Memorial, which commemorates soldiers, sailors and airmen recruited from the town and killed in war; Colchester Cemetery, where 389 Commonwealth soldiers killed since the First World War are buried; and the Dakota gate guardian at the Barracks, the transport aircraft used for Second World War parachute operations, to reference the history of airborne forces.
The route was devised by Reverend ‘Ollie’ North, chaplain to 13 Air Assault Support Regiment Royal Logistics Corps, to give soldiers, either on their own or in socially-distanced groups, an opportunity to reflect on Remembrance.
“Creating this walk was a direct response to coronavirus, which means that we don’t have the chance to come together and discuss what Remembrance means,” he said. “The route is a physical, emotional and mental journey to explore the history and relevance of Remembrance, both for them as serving soldiers and for the wider community in Colchester.
“For me, the perfect outcome of a soldier doing this walk would be that when he or she stands to attention at 11o’clock on November 11th their head and heart are in the right place, having really considered the sacrifices made by others on their behalf.”
Private Jamie Taylor did the walk with four colleagues from 13 AASR’s 63 Squadron. “It’s been interesting to understand more about what Remembrance means to the town and the garrison,” the 21-year-old from Sheffield said. “I found the cemetery particularly moving. It was such a peaceful and well-cared for place and seeing all the soldiers’ graves makes you realise what sacrifice means.
“Going on this walk has really opened my eyes about Remembrance and made me more aware of what people gave for us to have our freedoms today.”